What is IASTM?

15 March 2023Chiropractic, Physical Therapy

What are the metal tools my physical therapist uses and why are they using them? Our patients affectively refer to these tools as "butter knives,"  but what are they really?

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Manipulation (IASTM) is a treatment method to help reduce issues associated with tight, tender, or painful areas.

It is one of the most effective ways of targeting tight and restricted fascia which is what commonly causes muscle pain/tenderness.

This technique successfully improves range of motion, reduces pain, and improves functionality. IASTM is also associated with reducing inflammation, eliminating chronic pain, and increasing natural collagen production for scar healing.

How does IASTM Therapy work?

After an area of restriction has been identified, the instrument/tool is then used to apply friction to the tissues, breaking down scar tissue, re-aligning tissue fibers, and creating a local pro- inflammatory response. This pro-inflammatory response increases blood flow and nutrients in and around the area thus helping promote the healing process in the affected fascia and soft tissues.

Which technique is best?

There are a few techniques that can be used by clinicians such as Graston, FAKTR, Rockblades, or Hawk Grip. The technique that we use most frequently at F.I.T. Muscle & Joint Clinic is FAKTR. FAKTR stands for “Functional and Kinetic Treatment Rehab”. This rehab system dives deeper into the concepts of IASTM by the use of specific positions or motions to provoke pain. By provoking pain (temporarily) it allows the clinician to decipher the rooted cause of soft-tissue or muscular dysfunction. Utilizing these pain provoking positions improves the transition from treatment to life/sport. All of these concepts are used to help reduce pain, improve range of motion, and minimize tightness in fascia/soft tissues. Overall, IASTM/FAKTR is a versatile and effective treatment option for a wide variety of conditions.

What can IASTM help with?

IASTM has proven to be an effective treatment option for a variety of musculoskeletal issues whether chronic or acute! Some injuries we use it for include:

  • Achilles Tendinitis (ankle pain)

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (wrist pain)

  • Cervical Sprain/Strain (neck pain)

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Lateral Epicondylitis/osis (tennis elbow)

  • Lumbar Sprain/Strain (back pain)

  • Medial Epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow)

  • Patellofemoral Disorders (knee pain)

  • Plantar Fasciitis (foot pain)

  • Rotator Cuff Tendinitis (shoulder pain)

  • Scar Tissue

  • Shin Splints

  • Trigger Finger

  • Women’s Health (post-mastectomy and Caesarean scarring)

Whether you're experiencing a new injury or have been dealing with it for quite some time, IASTM is a treatment to consider and talk with your physical therapist about.

If you’re looking for a way to improve your overall health, minimize pain, and function better than before, IASTM may be the perfect solution for you!